When planning a company meeting, retreat or conference, it’s a challenge to find the right destination. But Blount County, Tennessee, nestled in the Smoky Mountains, is quickly becoming a top choice with its scenic mountain views, opportunities for outdoor adventure, a whiskey trail, craft breweries and food to tempt even the snobbiest gourmand.
Although destinations like Las Vegas or Orlando have long been go-to choices, meeting and conference planners are finding value in Blount County’s peaceful and tranquil environment, providing an antithesis to harried and overpopulated cities.
In fact, research and studies show choosing a destination surrounded by nature can have a positive impact on a team’s performance and the success of the meeting or conference.
A University of Michigan study found participants performed 20 percent better on short-term memory tests after spending time in nature. And research has shown mental energy, creativity and cognitive thinking improves even after just seeing nature through a window.
The challenge with destinations amongst nature is that they are often remote, creating difficulties with travel. Blount County, however, lies within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population and has a regional airport offering over 100 daily flights to 23 non-stop destinations. It’s also easily accessible by vehicle via major highways and is less than a four-hour drive from major cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, Nashville, Greenville, Lexington and Louisville.
While Blount County is a tranquil and serene locale that leaves guests feeling relaxed and renewed, there is also a wealth of opportunities for adventure, dining and entertainment. Meeting attendees can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, tubing, rafting, fishing or biking all within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Guests can also get a taste of the Appalachian mountains with flavorful dining by award-winning chefs or visit one the many craft breweries or wineries. For those who enjoy golf, there are six different courses all within a short drive.
The area has numerous meeting venue options ranging from rustic to luxurious with new options continuing to open. In early December the Hilton Knoxville Airport Conference Center will be completed and will feature 20 different meeting and conference spaces. Connected to the McGhee Tyson Airport, it features complimentary WIFI, a shuttle service, laundry service, a 24-hour business center, restaurant, private lounge, tropical indoor pool and a fitness center.
“Meeting planners are often under a lot of pressure to pull off a meeting or conference that makes everyone happy,” said Blount Partnership Director of Tourism Kim Mitchell. “But Blount County provides a versatile option that will wow attendees and leave them feeling relaxed and renewed. We have many companies that return year after year.”